Hound trailing is a race between hounds along an artificially laid scent trail. The sport is a combination of drag hunting, dog racing and steeplechasing, with the hounds taking the place of horses. The hounds follow a man-laid scent, the scent trail being usually laid by dragging a piece of fabric, slightly soaked with a combination of aniseed and paraffin oil, along the course.
Unlike in other forms of hunting, humans do not follow the hounds, instead the hounds conduct the course unassisted and spectators can observe parts of the race from vantage points through binoculars. Hound trailing is effectively confined to the British Isles, it is particularly popular in Cumbria, the Scottish Borders, parts of Yorkshire and parts of Ireland.
Hound trailing originated in the 18th century as a means of various hunt masters testing their fox hounds against each other in match races. Hound trailing or hound racing became particularly popular in the Lake District, with hunt masters of packs conducting match races over laid drag lines. The rapid rise in the popularity of the sport led to the establishment of the Hound Trailing Association in 1906.
Trail hounds have evolved into a distinct breed or type of hound specifically bred for performance alone, they are sleek, hard muscled hounds with almost whippet like bodies. Trail hounds descend from the Fell hounds, and foxhounds found in the north of England.
The Littles Arms, or Top House as it is locally known is still located at Wath Brow, but has changed appearance since this wonderful photo was captured. Also, now, the field where the trail is commencing is home to Wath Brow Hornets ARLFC. Rugby has been played in the Wath Brow area of Cleator Moor for many years. The original Hornets club was formed in 1898, playing the northern union code of rugby. The club disbanded in 1904. A new club with the same name was formed in 1920. This club however, disbanded at the start of World War II in 1939. The current incarnation of the club was formed in 1955 and joined the National Conference League in 2002.